Quick. Can you name the most important aspect of a solid email marketing strategy?
If you guessed “building an email list,” give yourself a gold star (or a pat on the back). After all, if you don’t have an email list, it becomes quite challenging to market to your prospects and customers through email.
There are many ways to grow your list, 13 of them discussed here. However, no matter which tactics you choose to implement, a decision you must make is whether to use a single or double opt-in process.
Single Opt-In: A subscriber provides their email address to a company, usually via a web form. As soon as they hit submit or enter, the user is added to the email database. In some instances, a company will send out a thank you email indicating that you’ve successfully been added to the list. Other times, the thank you will come in the form of a welcome email. Either way, no other action is required by the subscriber.
Double Opt-In: A subscriber provides their email address to a company, usually via a web form. However, before they are added to the email database, they must reply to the email or click on a link to “confirm” their request to opt-in. If they don’t reply or click the link, they are not added to the list.
Why I’m an Advocate for Single Opt-In
Within the email marketing circles, the single vs. double opt-in discussion is often hotly debated. There are certainly pros and cons for each side. Personally, I think using a double opt-in process is a terrible idea. Here’s why:
I have just gone through the effort of raising my virtual hand to say I want to receive emails from you or your company. I’ve said yes. I’ve opt-in. Then, you send me a confirmation email which basically says, “Are you really sure? Do you really want to get emails from us?” I understand the argument that you’re ensuring I’m a real human being and not a bot; however, you’ll learn that after the first (welcome) email is sent. If it doesn’t bounce, it’s likely to be a valid email address.
On top of that, what if that confirmation email never reaches my inbox? According to some new research by Return Path, only 76.5% of all commercial email reaches the inbox. Are you willing to risk losing nearly 25% of your opt-ins because they never saw the confirmation email?
Finally, what if you send that confirmation email and it never gets opened or clicked? Again, another lost subscriber.
I recently opted in to receive emails from Staples. The next day, I received an email with the subject line, “Please confirm your email subscription.” When I opened the email, this is what I saw:
With images off, the only indication I have that I need to take an action (confirm) is a small link in the preheader. What if I simply ignored this email? What if I opened it, but never enabled images to see the call to action? What if I deleted it before reading? The answer: I would not be subscribed to the Staples email marketing program – even though I asked to be!
Just to be fair, let’s look at that same confirmation email from Staples with images on:
Now we can clearly see the call to action as well as what to expect from Staples emails. The email is actually quite inviting and very well done. However, I stil stick by my point: Requiring me to double opt-in before I receive your first “real” email makes me – the subscriber – do more work then necessary. Why make it harder than it has to be?
That being said, I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before. Once. (Don’t tell my wife). Have you found success using a double opt-in approach? Have you tested single vs. double? I’d love to hear more. Please use the comments below.